October 19, 2020

CSF Meets with Indiana’s New DNR Director to Discuss the State of Indiana’s Forests

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

On October 15, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Upper Midwestern States Manager Nick Buggia coordinated a meeting with the new Director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Dan Bortner, at Clark State Forest in Henryville, Indiana (IN). Members of the IN-Forest Forever Coalition and DNR staff were also in attendance at the meeting.

The meeting was an opportunity to introduce Director Bortner to members of the forestry community in the Hoosier state. The IN-Forest Forever Coalition is comprised of organizations that represent foresters, timber companies, wildlife organizations, and land conservation organizations. Topics discussed at the meeting included the need for an increase in active forest management in the state, the communication of science–based information to the public in a format that they will best understand, and funding options for the DNR’s Division of Forestry. CSF staff discussed the importance of active forest management for creating wildlife habitat, especially for species like the ruffed grouse, that are expected to be officially listed as a state endangered species in Indiana. Currently, the diversity of age classes in Indiana’s forests are severely skewed toward older age classes. Trees between 0-20 years old are almost nonexistent while an abundance of trees in the 100-150 age class, which tend to shade out and prevent the establishment of new trees, currently exist. This lack of diversity has had negative effects on both resident and migrating wildlife, as well as the overall health and resiliency of the forest.  

After the meeting, DNR entomologists gave a presentation an update on what the agency has been doing to stop the spread of invasive insects in Indiana’s forests. Following these updates, the IN-Forest Forever Coalition, along with members of the DNR and local legislators, took a tour of Clark State Forest where they saw firsthand what an actively-managed, healthy forest should look like.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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